Sandeep Mallya Curated
Founder & CEO of Startup Cafe Digital
CURATED BY :
How important is search engine optimization and how do you play with relevant keywords?
Without SEO, a website is basically invisible to search engines. Search engines like Google and Bing follow certain rules in order to rank or index your content. Understanding these rules allows you to create and format your web content in a way that search engines can digest. And these rules keep evolving and it’s our job as search marketers to stay up to speed with the changing search algorithms. At Startup Cafe, we focus mainly on two critical aspects of SEO: keyword research and link building. We use tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs to uncover valuable keywords for our clients and also do a thorough analysis of the keywords used by their competitors. For startups, it’s difficult to compete with other companies on high volume keywords. Therefore, we identify long tail keywords for them. Long tail keywords lack volume, but they can often drive highly valuable traffic to your site. Once we have identified all the keywords that are relevant for our clients, we focus on producing high-quality content for them. But producing high-quality content is not enough. You also need to make sure you’re generating authoritative backlinks for your site. Despite Google’s ever-changing algorithms, high quality backlinks are still a strong indicator of authority to Google. Link building is perhaps the most important and the most challenging aspect of SEO. If you want more search engine traffic, link building is a must. And not just any links. But links from top authority sites (links from sites with domain authority score of 65 or higher). Since the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, search marketers have had to resort to more nuanced techniques to gain backlinks. A few of these techniques include broken link building, blogger/influencer outreach, and infographic marketing. Among these techniques, blogger outreach remains one of the most popular and effective techniques to generate high-quality backlinks. This is where Startup Cafe’s influencer network can help in generating quick, authoritative backlinks for our clients.
How do you intend to expand your geographical reach and evolve your services?
The digital landscape is changing at an astonishing pace. As such, it’s important to keep yourself up-to-date with the latest news and adapt to the changes made by each platform. For instance, in the last 12 months alone, Google has updated its algorithm 13 times. And Facebook’s new algorithm places special emphasis on videos. It’s no wonder video garners triple the engagement and 1,200 percent more shares than text and image posts combined. As marketers, if you’re aware of these changes as and when they happen, it’s going to help you evolve your services and improve your marketing strategy. This is the reason why we have included video marketing in even the most basic social media package that we offer, and our SEO services keep evolving with each algorithm change from Google, helping us maximize the ROI for our clients. You can get up to speed with these changes by following marketing influencers and thought leaders. I’d also recommend using a tool like Buzzsumo to stay on top of all the trending news in your space. We have clients across the world, but we run paid campaigns only in India, Singapore, and the US. Most of our existing clients are also in these regions. And we intend to continue focusing on these markets because these are the locations where we are confident of delivering results. Going forward, we’d definitely want to expand our geographical reach, but that’s not our priority at this stage.
How can clients from across the world be won?
Thanks to the proliferation of technology and the internet, you can collaborate with people who live thousands of miles away. We are not restricted by geographical boundaries anymore. Regardless of where they’re situated, chances are these companies are facing similar marketing challenges. Doesn’t matter where you’re operating from, if you’re able to convince people that you can provide real value to their business, they’ll be interested to learn more about your offerings. In the first year, we never spent money directly to acquire customers. Instead, we relied solely on inbound marketing. We focused all our efforts on producing insightful content, infographics, social media marketing, and word of mouth. What has worked for us is participating in relevant Facebook groups, online groups, Twitter chats, and various subreddits. Oftentimes, there are people in these groups who are looking for inbound solutions and that’s when you pitch in. Having said that, it’s not a good idea to be overly promotional on these groups. Just participate in discussions and answer questions, but never do blatant promotion of your brand. Join as many groups as possible. Communities on LinkedIn and Reddit can be small, but really active. So be sure you check in to these from time to time. Reddit has several subreddits for social media marketing, SEO, and even agencies. You can share thoughts and ideas with like-minded professionals here and evolve as an agency owner. Some people have a mindset that they should only focus on their local business but you can win clients from anywhere with the right strategy.
How are conversions increased through effective inbound marketing? What is your strategy?
Businesses, both large and small, are increasingly using inbound marketing to drive targeted traffic to their website. According to HubSpot’s ROI report, 92.34% of companies use inbound marketing to increase their traffic. Unlike traditional outbound marketing practices (print, billboards, etc.) that are invasive, inbound marketing is about pulling in users who are actively seeking solutions to their problems. Inbound marketing is not about forcing your product on people, but to actively engage and educate them to make informed decisions. To help visitors “convert”, you need to use strategic calls-to action and forms, create landing pages for different services that you offer, and most importantly, create compelling content marketing offers. Depending on your audience and goals, these offers could be eBooks, webinars, infographics, etc. Our team is made up of accomplished marketers, graphic designers, and web developers. We have all of the marketing knowledge, creative instinct, and technical expertise needed to guide and execute an effective inbound strategy for our clients. Before we take on a project, we carry out an audit of the client’s existing marketing mix and identify pain areas. On the basis of this information, we recommend a marketing strategy and focus on executing it to precision.
How do you help small businesses generate more website traffic?
We use a calculated mix of blogging, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing to increase web traffic for our clients. But if I were to pick one strategy for small businesses to generate more traffic, it would be blogging. Having a business blog which is constantly updated with new articles is one of the most cost effective ways small businesses can drive traffic to their website, convert leads, and control their search presence. Studies indicate businesses that blog 10+ times per month get almost 3x more traffic than those blogging 0-1 times per month. So you need to spend time researching relevant topics and keywords in your niche and publish articles on a consistent basis, always keeping the buyer persona of your company in mind. We have achieved tremendous results for our clients through blogging. We publish 3-4 blog posts for them on a weekly basis, and at least one of the articles is a long form post which has the potential to rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs) and is better positioned to receive more social shares and backlinks.
What makes your business unique in a pool of digital marketing companies?
We cater mostly to early-stage and growth-stage startups. The services that we offer are tailored towards small and medium-sized businesses, and we firmly believe in the idea that our clients should get the full value of every dollar spent. Furthermore, we take an analytics-driven approach to our services. With weekly analytics reports, we can measure and improve our strategy, and help our clients re-invest in ROI-positive channels. Secondly, we partner with hundreds of influencers and bloggers from different backgrounds who are ready to work with brands on specific campaigns. We use this influencer network for content marketing and link building campaigns for our clients.And finally, we have assembled a group of smart, talented people that have a passion for working with small businesses and helping them grow.
Tell us about yourself
I’m an entrepreneur and digital marketing consultant from Bangalore, India. I founded my own digital agency, Startup Cafe Digital, in 2015 where I help SMBs leverage social media, SEO, and content marketing to grow their traffic and generate qualified leads for their business. I launched 99signals in 2016 as a side project to document all the strategies, tools, and tactics that I was using to grow my small agency. The goal was simple: to arm other solopreneurs with all the right information and tools they needed to launch a successful online business. Since then, 99signals has grown significantly and generates over $5,000 in side income each month. The blog currently features 200+ in-depth articles, how-to guides, and actionable tips on a wide range of marketing topics — from SEO and content marketing to social media marketing and affiliate marketing.